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Patriot Pyro SE SATA III Solid State Drive Review
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Date: Jan 02, 2012
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

We have evaluated a handful of Patriot’s SSDs recently, all of which proved to be solid (no pun intended) offerings in their respective categories. The high-end Patriot Wildfire SSD hung right alongside the best of the SandForce-based drives with synchronous NAND we’ve tested and the lower-priced Pyro was also competitive with its asynchronous NAND-equipped counterparts.

There was a fairly large price disparity between the Wildfire and Pyro, however, one which Patriot has filled with the newer Pyro SE. The SE is similar to the original Pyro, but eschews the first drive’s Micron 25nm asynchronous MLC NAND flash memory in favor of synchronous memory, which also comes by way of Micron. With synchronous flash memory paired to the SandForce controller in the drive, the Pyro SE should offer better performance with incompressible data.

We’ll see if that proves true in the benchmark pages ahead, but before we get to the numbers, here are the Patriot Pyro SE 120GB solid state drive’s features and specifications, followed by a full teardown of the drive...

Patriot Pyro SE 120GB SATA III SSD
Specifications & Features
SandForce SF-2200 series SSD processor paired with qualified MLC NAND flash

SATA 6Gb/s, 3Gb/s and 1.5Gb/s

TRIM support (O/S dependent)

DuraClass technology

DuraWrite extends the endurance of SSDs

Intelligent Block Management and Wear Leveling

Intelligent Read Disturb Management

Intelligent "Recycling" for advance free space management (Garbage Collection)

RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements)

Intelligent Data Retention optimization
Best-in-class ECC protection for longest data retention and drive life.

Power/Performance Balancing

Thermal Threshold Management

Native Command Queuing (NCQ) - Up to 32 commands

ECC Recovery: Up to 55 bits correctable per 512-byte sector (BCH)

Sequential Read & Write Transfer:
60GB model; Up to 550MB/s read | 500MB/s Write
240GB & 120GB models; Up to 550MB/s read | 520MB/s Write

Max Random Write IOPS: 60GB model; Up to 80K, 240GB & 120GB models; Up to 85,000 (4K aligned)

O/S Support: Windows XP / Vista / 7 / Mac OS / Linux

 

As you can see, the Patriot Pyro SE conforms to the standard 2.5” form factor common amongst today’s solid state drives. It also features a hard aluminum shell to protect the innards from damage. The shell is adorned with a large Patriot Pyro SE decal on the top side, while the bottom sports another decal with model and serial number information, along with other technical details.

 

Crack the Patriot Pyro SE open, and its PCB is easily removed. Both sides are outfitted with eight, 25nm Micron MLC NAND flash chips of the synchronous variety, for a total of 16 chips. This type of NAND is somewhat less expensive than the Toshiba flash memory used in the higher-end Wildfire, hence the SE’s position between the original Pyro and Wildfire in Patriot’s current line-up.

This particular drive is a 120GB model, but there is actually 128GB of NAND on-board—the additional capacity is provisioned for wear-leveling and other drive maintenance-related features. The SandForce SF-2281 controller is positioned right between the SATA power and data and connectors and eight of the flash chips on the top side of the PCB. This is the same controller used on virtually all current SandForce-based drives targeted at desktop PC users.

The Patriot Pyro SE ships with a minimal amount of accessories. There is no 2.5”-to-3.5” drive tray adapter included and no power or data cables either. All that was bundled with the drive was a "Go Lightning Fast" decal and a basic installation guide / manual.

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Test Setup, IOMeter 1.1 RC and SANDRA

Our Test Methodologies: Under each test condition, the Solid State Drives tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a standard spinning hard disk for the OS and benchmark installations. Out testbed's motherboard was updated with the latest BIOS available as of press time and AHCI mode was enabled. The SSDs were secure erased and left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted, as was the case with our ATTO, PCMark 7, and CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates and screen savers were all disabled before testing. In all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited for drive activity to settle before invoking a test.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 and SSD Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-2600K

Asus P8Z6-V Pro
(Z68 Chipset, AHCI Enabled)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285

4GB Kingston DDR3-1600

Integrated on board

WD Raptor 150GB (OS Drive)
Patriot Pyro SE (120GB)
Patriot Pyro (120GB)
Corsair Force GT (120GB)
Corsair Force 3 (120GB)
Patriot Wildfire (120GB)
Crucial M4 (256)

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64
Intel 9.2.0.1030, iRST 10.5.1027
DirectX 11

NVIDIA GeForce 275.33

Benchmarks Used:
IOMeter 1.1.0 RC
HD Tune v4.61
ATTO v2.47
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark v3.01 x64
PCMark 7
SiSoftware Sandra 2011

IOMeter
I/O Subsystem Measurement Tool

As we've noted in previous SSD articles, though IOMeter is clearly a well-respected industry standard drive benchmark, we're not completely comfortable with it for testing SSDs. The fact of the matter is, though our actual results with IOMeter appear to scale properly, it is debatable whether or not certain access patterns, as they are presented to and measured on an SSD, actually provide a valid example of real-world performance for the average end user. That said, we do think IOMeter is a gauge for relative available throughput with a given storage solution. In addition there are certain higher-end workloads you can place on a drive with IOMeter, that you really can't with most other benchmark tools available currently.

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of access patterns; our Workstation pattern, with an 8K transfer size, 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and IOMeter's default access pattern of 2K transfers, 67% reads (34% writes) and 100% random access.

 

The Patriot Pyro SE was competitive with the other drives when tested with our custom workstation access pattern, but trailed all but the Crucial M4 with IOMeter's default access pattern.

SiSoft SANDRA 2011
Synthetic HDD Benchmarking

Next we ran SiSoft SANDRA, the the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Here, we used the Physical Disk test suite and provided the results from our comparison SSDs. The benchmarks were run without formatting and read and write performance metrics are detailed below.

The Patriot Pyro SE performed right about where expected in the SiSoft SANDRA Physical Disk benchmark, which is to say it finished right between the more expensive Wildfire and more affordable original Pyro.

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ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO is another "quick and dirty" type of disk benchmark that measures transfer speeds across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and graphs them out in an easily interpreted chart. We chose .5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes and a queue depth of 6 over a total max volume length of 256MB. ATTO's workloads are sequential in nature and measure raw bandwidth, rather than I/O response time, access latency, etc. This test was performed on blank, formatted drives with default NTFS partitions in Windows 7 x64.

ATTO Disk Benchmark
More Information Here: http://bit.ly/btuV6w

All of the SandForce-based drives were tightly grouped in the ATTO read and write tests, with the Crucial M4 trailing the rest of the pack at all but the smallest transfer sizes in the write test.

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HD Tune Benchmarks
EFD Software's HD Tune is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more." The latest version of the benchmark added temperature statistics and improved support for SSDs, among a few other updates and fixes.

HD Tune v4.61
More Info Here: http://www.hdtune.com

All of the SandForce-based drives once again performed similarly in the various HD Tune tests, with the Patriot Pyro SE finishing at or near the top in most.

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CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers. It provides a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to SSD performance, best case being larger sequential transfers and worse case being small, random transfers.

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests

The CrystalDiskMark tests use incompressible data, hence the large performance disparity between the orignal Pyro and the newer SE model in the sequential transfer tests here.

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AS-SSD Compression Test

Next up we ran the Compression Benchmark built-into AS SSD, an SSD specific benchmark being developed by Alex Intelligent Software. This test is interesting because it uses a mix of compressible and incompressible data and outputs both Read and Write throughput of the drive. We only graphed a small fraction of the data (1% compressible, 50% compressible, and 100% compressible), but the trend is representative of the benchmark’s complete results.

AS SSD Compression Benchmark
Bring Your Translator: http://bit.ly/aRx11n

The Patriot WildFire offered the best write performance across the board in the AS SSD compression benchmark. The SandForce-based drives with synchronous NAND were all tightly grouped in the read benchmark, however. This is another test where the original Pyro's asynchronous NAND results in much lower scores than the newer SE.

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PCMark 7 Storage Benchmarks
We really like PCMark 7's Secondary Storage benchmark module for its pseudo real-world application measurement approach to testing. PCMark 7 offers a trace-based measurement of system response times under various scripted workloads of traditional client / desktop system operation. From simple application start-up performance, to data streaming from a drive in a game engine, and video editing with Windows Movie Maker, we feel more comfortable that these tests reasonably illustrate the performance profile of SSDs in an end-user / consumer PC usage model, more so than a purely synthetic transfer test.

Futuremark's PCMark 7 Secondary Storage
http://www.futuremark.com

The Patriot Pyro SE once again finishes right about where'd you expect it to in the PCMark 7 secondary storage system benchmarks. It trades with the WildFire in a couple of the tests, but overall the WildFire with it Toshiba NAND have a slight edge.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Patriot Pyro SE performed very well throughout out battery of tests. Generally speaking, the drive’s overall performance fell somewhere in between the original Pyro and higher-end WildFire, which put it right on par with other SandForce-based drives in its class. With that said, the Pyro SE’s performance was much closer to the WildFire than the original Pyro, especially with workloads using incompressible data.


The Patriot Pyro SE 120GB SATA III SSD

The 120GB Patriot Pyro SE drive we’ve evaluated here is currently selling for about $205, or $1.70 per gigabyte. The higher-end Patriot WildFire, which uses more expensive Toshiba synchronous NAND flash memory, is selling for about $235, or $1.95 per gigabyte. And the original Pyro with its asynchronous NAND is about $185 or $1.55 per gigabyte for a 120GB drive. Looking back through the benchmarks, it’s easy to justify the somewhat higher price of the Pyro SE over the original model. The newer Pyro SE offers better overall performance than the original, that’s only a hair behind the pricier WildFire. If we compare the price of the Pyro SE to competing SandForce based drives from OCZ and Corsair, the Pyro SE’s price still looks decent--its slightly more expensive than Corsair's offering, but cheaper than OCZ, at least for now (prices are still constantly fluctuating in the SSD space).

Ultimately, we're putting our stamp of approval on the Patriot Pyro SE. The drive offers excellent performance with all data types and it's competitively priced. If you're in the market for a good, all-around solid state drive, make sure the Patriot Pyro SE is on your short list of considerations.

 

  • Strong Performance
  • Synchronous Flash Memory
  • SATA III
  • Competitive Price

 

  • More Expensive Than Corsair Force GT
  • Faster WildFire Model Only Slightly More Expensive

 



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